Should social media practitioners have that vital journalism and communications training? Definitely, here’s why…

When trying to describe my major to friends, family and random people they are often confused by what exactly is “public relations.” Another confusing aspect for friends to grasp is I’m required to blog and tweet for class when most of these people don’t even have Twitter accounts.

I try to explain to them that Twitter is required to help me learn how to use it strategically in my “real world grown up job.” Obviously since they’re not even leisure users, they have no idea.

Hasn’t anyone wondered why Charlie Sheen just joined Twitter? My guess is because his publicist, Stan Rosenfield, probably gave him advice not to. Now that he has resigned, Charlie is obviously making a mockery of himself. Rosenfield’s communications training could have been the logic in knowing that every celebrity, brand, etc. is not suited for social media.

But for you that do understand using Twitter and other social media platforms, I hope you will agree that social media is an element of journalism.

In Erin Everhart’s article, “How is Social Media Not Journalism?” she points out a similar situation she’s been put in, “Social media has an ever-more influential position in the disseminating and the consumption of news and information, and it strikes me as odd that I get assaulted from my more mainstream journalism friends with accusations that I’m letting my journalism degree go to waste by being a digital marketer.”

I’m not sure how/if Erin was taught how to use social media strategically in college, but that is the kind of classes I’m perusing my last semester. Social Media can be a very important tactic of your overall strategic communications plan. You need to learn, whether it’s through experience or a class room setting, how to use these new elements of journalism to your clients advantage.

I’ve wondered to myself, and even had some candid friends ask, why am I getting a college degree to run someone’s Facebook and Twitter account? I believe I am a good promoter, even prior to starting college, but taking courses for five years has taught me in public relations you must plan and have a damn good plan while you’re at it.

Through guest speakers I have been able to learn how to strategically plan to use social media as a journalistic element. Announcing press releases in 140 characters has made me a better writer, more concise and direct.

I’m excited to see where this gray line of defining journalism transitions. This industry is ever evolving while people are trying to figure out ways to use the new platforms; someone is creating another one that is going to blow our minds.

 

Everhart brought up a good debate, “…at one point didn’t we think that you needed a newspaper for something to be journalism?”

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